Edge of the Known Bus Line
I finished this book wanting more! Gapinski’s fantastic dystopian novella is full of characters who are unconventionally named by what they wear, what they look like, what they do, and what items they may possess. This story was extremely creative and interesting, albeit disturbing on so many levels. It’s main character, a woman who has uneven breasts, has no name. Let’s call her Uneven Breast Lady. The reader follows her as she boards a bus with a destination of “Out of Service.” She’s a little bitter–seems like she’s had a rough life–but is smart and ambitious at the same time. After seeing a woman brutally murdered on the bus and being welcomed by a group of what seems like neanderthal-like humans with missing eyes and tarp for clothing, she is thrown into their world. A world in which luxuries include Purell hand sanitizer and used lipstick from a dead woman.
Out of Service is a true nightmare. Uneven Breast Lady is smarter than most of the people in Out of Service. We know this because she is organized (she tallies the days she stays with an eyeliner on the underside of her blouse) and she never stops planning her way out. I think one of the most disturbing parts of this book is the fact that Tarp Lady and Condom Eye find love and conceive a child in this horrid land. Their boy is one of my favorite characters and helps Uneven Breast Lady plan her escape. She teaches him how to play Go Fish with her credit cards and also finds him a deflated basketball to play with. I felt like Uneven Breast Lady felt sorry for the boy but truly enjoyed his company because he was an innocent. This story makes you think of what would happen in the case of an apocalypse. There would be no new supplies. Rats and birds would be the fare. And only the strongest would survive. In the story, although everyone is dirty and septic, the people still manage to create factions. There is the Chicago faction and the Cleveland faction both of which have prophets and their pros and cons. Uneven Breast Lady wants nothing to do with this and becomes an Independent Contractor for the Chicago faction. She becomes their butcher but refuses to cut up human remains. The survival of the people in this book is amazing but definitely not sustainable.
A wonderfully creepy and frightful book that left me wondering what would happen next. I’d love to read a sequel Mr. Gapinski! Four-and-a-half stars for making my skin crawl but leaving me wanting more at the same time.
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